Benin Republic have qualified for their first ever Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final and they did so in dramatic fashion; ousting one of the tournament favourites Morocco 4-1 on penalties on Friday night.
Morocco’s Hakim Ziyech missed a spot-kick at the end of normal time. That proved costly as the Atlas Lions suffered a shock penalty shoot-out defeat to Benin in Friday’s action-packed opening Africa Cup of Nations last-16 tie.
The highly-rated Morocco team won all three of their group matches by a 1-0 scoreline and were overwhelming favourites to overcome their West African opponents who progressed with three successive draws, and were debutants in the knockout rounds.
But Ziyech missed a penalty six minutes into added time after Youssef En-Nesyri had scored late on to cancel out Moise Adilehou’s opener against the run of play.
Adilehou is the first defender to score a goal for Benin in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Benin played 23 minutes of extra time with ten men after Khaled Adenon was dismissed for apparently shoving the referee, a second bookable offence.
He left the pitch very reluctantly before engaging in an argument with the Moroccan bench and it remains to be seen if he will play again in the tournament.
The Squirrels, as the Benin team are fondly called, looked to have been looking to get to penalties from the first minute and their accomplished kicks suggested as much.
In contrast, Morocco appeared nervy in the shoot-out with Sofiane Boufal blazing over the bar and Youssef En-Nesyri seeing his kick saved.
With Friday’s victory, Benin are now billed to face either Senegal or Uganda in their first-ever AFCON quarter-final.